Post-production firm speeds deliveries to Hollywood

A pair of Vancouver companies have teamed up to fight network performance problems and ensure that Hollywood hits not only get to a theatre near you, but that they get there on time.

Known as Hollywood North thanks to the number of motion pictures and television programs produced there, Vancouver

is the third largest production centre in North America, and experts call it a highly competitive market for post-production companies. To succeed, they say, these companies must ensure film gets to Hollywood’s motion picture studios promptly — often within a matter of hours.

Rainmaker Entertainment Group has dealt with the tight schedule by transmitting more of its daily digital movie footage to Hollywood via the Internet by compressing video material into an MPEG format and using FTP to send it down. However the company soon found that this solution came with its own set of challenges.

“”We were faced with inconsistent network performance, even after putting in some high-speed links,”” says Rainmaker senior systems programmer Ronald Knol. “”For no apparent reason files that at one time took an hour to transfer would take five the next.””

Rainmaker’s main problem was establishing whether network performance fluctuations were caused by its customers’ internal network problems, or whether their own super-high-bandwidth 45MB data link had glitches that were preventing clean data transmission. It turned to jaalaM Technologies’ recently launched appareNet network intelligence software for help.

“”There was no way for us to determine what was happening until we started using appareNet,”” says Knol. “”It quickly gave us a clear view of the network and was able to identify the problem — in this case a wireless link that had dropped a half duplex. This in turn allowed us to go to our ISP and tell them what the problem was, which is not always easy to do for a client.””

Rainmaker is one of the growing number of enterprises whose business rely on large networks. “”The retail industry, finance companies and even certain types of legal organizations are becoming highly distributed types of businesses, making network performance a key issue,”” says IDC Canada’s director of enterprise network services Dan McLean.

“”Advances in hardware have moved network reliability issues into the background and now enterprises with a lot of remote workers or branch locations are turning their attention to getting the bandwidth they paid for, and having it available when they need it,”” says McLean.

“”AppareNet is basically a tool companies can use to get what they paid for,”” agrees jaalaM Technologies spokesperson Wayne Browne. “”By giving our customers the ability to see inside third party networks, showing them not only what the network is doing but also the problems that are preventing it from operating at its full potential, we save them from having to purchase additional bandwidth.””

Rainmaker looks forward to expanding this software’s use in the future.

“”We’re hoping to soon use appareNet to do a continuous scan of our network and help us figure out traffic patterns so that we can re-work our transmission schedule to coincide with network low-traffic times,”” says Knol. “”Although appareNet doesn’t have that capability yet, we’re expecting it to arrive with its next version.””

With their newly reliable network Rainmaker is able to provide its clients with better service, which in turn means more business, he adds. “”If we say a file will be there by nine o’clock, it’s there at nine o’clock,”” says Knol. “”Not all of the companies in town can do that.””

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